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GREEK EDUCATION                       it

commonly ascribed in Greek tradition to the legislation of
Lycurgus in the Ninth Century B,C. In this tradition there is a
double error. In the first place, many of the distinctive features
of Spartan life attributed to a particular act of law-giving were
common to all the Greeks at an early period and had their origin
in prehistoric institutions. The Spartans being shut off from
the outside world to a considerable extent by the high mountains
to the north of their country and by the rock-bound coast on the
south, clung to some of the old ways long after they had been
outgrown and forgotten by the rest of the Greeks. In the second
place, the drastic legislative changes which gave the Spartan
polity the rigid military form it had in historic times—and which
may conceivably have been due to Lycurgus—were probably
effected not in the Ninth but towards the close of the Seventh
Century B.C. The view already advanced that up till this time
the Spartans shared in the general progress of the Greek States,
and then for some reason suffered a sudden arrest in social
development, is borne out by a variety of facts* Recent excava-
tions on the site of the temple of Artemis in Sparta, for example,
reveal an abrupt change in the art of the people. Throughout
the Seventh Century there are evidences of a vigorous local art,
showing a typically Greek sense, both of the beautiful and of
the ridiculous* Then in a very brief space of time the votive
offerings in the temple cease to be beautiful and the grotesque
masks that expressed their sense of humour even in sacred things
are no longer found. The same narrowing of interest is indicated
by the small number of Spartans whose names appear on the lists
of Olympian victors from this time on*

The reason for this cultural degeneration can only be con-
jectured. It is undoubtedly to be connected with the fact that
the Spartans themselves were only a small community, probably
numbering no more than nine thousand families at their most
flourishing time. But whether the danger that forced on the
change came from the large population of serfs (helots) and free
perioeci, among whom they lived and over whom they had to
maintain their authority, or from the imperialistic ambitions of
neighbouring States, is not known. Apart from any particular
crisis, however, a serious problem had arisen about this time for
Sparta and all the other Greek States which made soihe change
necessary. Settled conditions had caused a growth of population